Guatemala top court: Local polls on mining legal

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Associated Press

Posted on December 9, 2013 at 5:33 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 9 at 7:04 PM

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemala's Constitutional Court has ruled that municipal governments must respect the results of referendums on whether mining projects can be developed in their towns.

The national government issues licenses to explore and exploit mines in the country, but it's up to local governments to issue permits allowing construction of mines.

The top court's ruling made public Monday is based on a complaint against a referendum in the town of La Villa de Mataquescuintla in which 10,000 people said they opposed a mining project. One hundred village residents supported the mine.

The complaint filed by a private citizen argued that the national government should decide on mining projects. The court rejected that argument, saying the right of the people to be consulted on such projects is "unquestionable."

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